The Future was Then

It is inevitable that writing and literature will adapt and transform over time; the next adaptation will be in tandem with an emergent technology that will make reading easier, or create an interaction that isn’t strictly reading, or maybe we’ll just have app games that look like books to impress people. It might also be useful to identify works that were ahead of their time, works that have the architecture and complexity to be a natural fit in a world of hyperlinks, tags, apps, and instant cross-referencing digital fun. Here is a list of some works that might find a second life. Continue reading

Flash Forward

Out of the chaos of the web has emerged a cultural phenomenon that, on the surface, seems to contradict everything you would expect from a disorganized universe: brevity, clarity, and care. The phenomenon I’m talking about is flash fiction. This unique contraction of literature may change what we think of when we think about storytelling.

A rough sketch: the guidelines of what makes flash ficiton “flash” is determined by editorial preference. 1000  words or less is  ballpark number to look for, but some extend the paramaters at will.

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License to Ill (Repute)

Yesterday Melanie Zolatan posted an excellent piece on Technorati that paints a bleak picture of a dystopian society in which authors and critics wage internecine warfare on a simmering hellscape that once knew peaceful division.

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Second Second Life

Today Chris Meadows on TeleRead has introduced me to a new phenomenon that I had not yet contemplated: the integration of literature into “virtual worlds”, the meta-website-alternate-universe concoctions that have been emerged within the electronic petri dish of the internet*. Continue reading

Supply and Demand

As the vast creative, manufacturing, marketing, and retailing apparatus that deals with the written word begins to accept the rising tide of electronic publishing, many interesting questions are being raised. The primary questions being: why do we make books, and how do we make money from the endeavor?

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The Future is Now

No it isn’t, because if it was now it would, by definition, not be the future, but the semantic uncertainty is telling. The use of the phrase (which is becoming common parlance in publishing circles) is born of a basic struggle endemic to the modern world: the superstructure of rapid technological advancement being superimposed on the chaos of everyday life, an amplified emergence that outstrips our ability to describe it. To me, the improvised prototypes of electronic readers represent the awkward teen years of the next generation of reading and writing. Early adulthood might take a form similar to this:

Paper 2.0

Direct to Consumer

Readers and writers have always accepted the necessary editorial filters through which all printed matter is subjected. Often re-purposed, redesigned, and re-imagined, the finished product is indented to exploit current trends and markets while preserving authorial vision as much as possible. Writers, for there part, accept payment for these trials, and usually offer some resistance nonetheless.

Electronic media, with its promise of self-agency, is subverting the formula. Depending on your point of view, the evolution can appear gradual or shockingly sudden. Either way, writers need to know their options and publishers need to redefine their long-term utility.

One prominent author has already stepped into this frontier, and his success or struggle should be paid attention to. Here is his story:

Barry